Raycroft could go all the way

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

RALEIGH -- Andrew Raycroft wants to be revered in Toronto like his pal Felix Potvin and Paul Maurice seems ready to give him that big chance to succeed or fail.

In reiterating yesterday that Raycroft could play all 31 remaining games, the coach would be making the inconsistent Raycroft the first Leafs goalie since Potvin to get in 70 decisions in one season. Potvin established that club record in 1996-97, but his mark of 27 wins, 36 losses and seven ties failed to get the Leafs in the playoffs.

"I'm going to run Razor as hard as I possibly can," Maurice said when questioned about playing Jean-Sebastien Aubin tonight against the New York Rangers, the only back-to-back games situation this month. "I think his game is coming along. He won us a game, in my mind, in Tampa and he was solid the other night against Montreal.

"We're not in the situation as the bulk of teams are, where we're looking two weeks down the road in the schedule to pick a point for our backup to go in. If he has to play every game the rest of the year, he might."

As crazy as that sounds, with the Leafs playing back-to-back five more times and one stretch of three in four nights, Toronto needs a horse of some description to qualify for the playoffs. Raycroft, who would come in at 74 games if he didn't rest, says he's up to the challenge.

"My body feels as good as it has since September. There's nothing nagging, no groin pain. I feel I could play every night if need be," said Raycroft, who has won four of his past five starts, including a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes last night.

"It's exciting with so many big games coming up. You play the first 50 or 60 to get (in playoff mode) for the last 20 or 30. You have to play well for that (chance) to happen. That's my goal."


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